Are queues really the fairest option we have available in this day and age?

20 September, 2012 at 1:36 pm 3 comments

A colleague, Tim Baker posted this article on the Thinkaboutpricing LinkedIn group. Jez Butterworth’s The River prompts fears of rise in paid queuing.

In 2012 it does seem anachronistic that the Royal Court Theatre seems to be supporting the idea that “… the queue is the happiest and fairest medium we have found so far … some things should perhaps be considered sacrosanct.

For Jez Butterworth’s new play, The River with Dominic West at the Royal Court tickets will only be available to those who queue at the venue on the day of performance. That means no advance booking in person, by phone, by mail or online.

Tourists will be OK as they have time on their hands and it can be a unique new ‘London experience’ – queuing in the rain.  Touts will be OK as they can pay people to stand in queue to buy the allowed two tickets and hand them over to touts (or touts will bid to buy) to pass them on to the market with “cost of sale” and profit?

In addition to disadvantaging the disabled, regional audiences will miss out (unless they make an early trip to London on the off chance that they will be lucky for later that day) and it would appear to disadvantage the employed with the two access options only in person at the theatre in queues at 9am and 10am?

I can’t help but feeling suspicious that given it is only a 85 seat studio, the queue is a made to order publicity stunt. It also seems to be a ready made publicity opportunity that the Royal Court Theatre can transfer it to the larger Jerwood Theatre downstairs with 300+ more seats and be seen as the good guys giving everyone a chance to see it.

But, will the existing audiences of the Royal Court see queuing as “fair”, I am sure they will not be “happy” that their previous patronage will account for nought when they try to see what is being pushed as the next ‘must see’ show.

As described this innovative access scheme does not appear to acknowledge or reward valuable relationships like friends, donors and other supporters in the form of  sponsors, funders, benefactors, foundations, members and associates? Friends membership includes the stated benefit “exclusive priority booking”, I do hope they also received their other benefit of “priority advance notice” of this policy.

There are three shows ‘sold out‘ already, one month before the show even starts (or ‘bookings’ open), so maybe some lucky ones (255) are being looked after. But again, I would not be “happy” or see it as “fair” if I had travelled down to London to queue that morning to see the show on one of those nights.

Entry filed under: Arts Marketing, audience development, box office, Case Studies, CRM, Customer Service, Loyalty, scalping. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. london theatre packages  |  20 September, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    I just came onto your post and found it quite interesting. I am also associated with london theatre tickets, vip hospitality, london theatre tickets, london theatre packages, and manchester arena tickets
    love enjoy the stuf on the same as its rarely found on internet. Thanks again for writing such a good post.

  • 2. Camilla Ley Valentin  |  20 September, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    Great post, started a bit of thinking on our part

  • 3. Penn Trevella  |  24 September, 2012 at 7:31 am

    After having serviced an onsale in which 10,000 customers were online trying to secure only 500 available tickets, it struck me that a ballot system would be a fairer way of distributing tickets for events in which there is far more demand than there is supply.
    Customers would be required to submit their details onlie by a certain date and then those succesful would be given a code to allow them to purchase their tickets online.
    Is anyone operating this kind of system?


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